Visiting an old friend

The Sleep of Reason, as I’ve said here before, has been put to bed. This is to say that I’ve considered it fully written, revised, refined, and ready. It’s now circulating among agents, and my creative energies are devoted in other areas.

Except that a few thoughts kept pressing on my humble and cluttered mind. I seemed to recall one inconsistency in the story, an observation the protagonist made that could not make sense given the facts of the story that came a chapter or two before. And I thought that maybe I could enhance a small, dreamlike sequence to make it even more dreamlike. And then I considered that I was missing an opportunity to forge a subtle but direct link between an incident in the very first chapter with the eventual fate of the protagonist.

And so in the wee hours of the past weekend, I cracked open several chapters of the novel and began to hunt for these areas. I found the latter two without difficulty, but the former proved more of a challenge since it related to a conversation in a different chapter. But I persevered, and I was rewarded. I found the conversation and the later observation that didn’t make sense. The fix was easy; I simply deleted the one sentence in which the observation was made. The text flowed fine without it and the inconsistency was dealt with.

The other two fixes were even easier. I enhanced the dream-like scene with a few well-chosen modifiers, and I made the link between the first chapter and the end with a quick sentence. The novel is better for it, and the work took me all of twenty minutes.

I don’t tell you this to show what a hero I am. Writing is rewriting, after all. It was the nagging to get these done that I marvel at. Even though I’d considered the manuscript complete, and even though I had “moved on” to Larger than Life, these thoughts pressed in my brain and wouldn’t let me ignore them. They really were subtle points. They might have been left unaddressed — even the inconsistency was missed by my readers — but they stayed with me. I take this as a sign that I have a strong grasp of my story, despite having “finished” it, and that such minor fixes are as welcome as they are inevitable.

Now I just hope that’s the last of them.

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3 Comments on “Visiting an old friend”

  1. J.M. Reep Says:

    There’s never any end to the list of things one can do to change or improve a text. Every time I open a document, I inevitably tinker with it.

    I try to take solace in the realization that all of the little “errors” that I see and that drive me up the wall will be missed by 99.9% of my potential readers.

    We only see these problems because we’ve read our stories several times. We pore over every chapter, every paragraph, every sentence, and every word. We question every punctuation mark; we check every other word with the dictionary. Our readers don’t do these things. They read the story once — maybe twice if they really, really enjoy it — and then move on, oblivious to the horrible, glaring mistakes that keep us up at night.

  2. Pete Says:

    I’m sure your future agent and publisher will have many more changes for you to implement. And even if you self-published I doubt the story would ever truly be “done.”

  3. Pete Says:

    In other words, your book may have been put to bed, but it’s far from asleep. You’ll have to go to its bedroom door several more times, imploring it to settle down.

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